Happy Hour

Every night of the week in Italy, as the streets fill up for the evening passeggiata, so do the bars and cafes.  Detouring from the promenade, Perugians can take a break at one of the umbrella-covered outdoor tables and order un’aperitivo.  While patrons sit and watch the crowds pass by, a waiter will bring a drink as well as several platters of appetizers.  Some cafes serve simple accompaniments such as chips, olives, and nuts.  Others bring many plates of food.  Everything is included with the price of a drink and could even substitute for a meal.  All this free food struck us as very generous.  Italians will just say that you can’t enjoy a drink without something good to eat.

Cafe Blitz is our favorite. Last week we were served a small slice of lazagna, pasta with sautéed greens, a mini frittata, huge capers, green olives, pickled onions, potato chips, bread, and a pesto spread.

When we aren’t very hungry, we like Bar Blu. The appetizers are light, and the location is the best for people watching.

Lunabar Ferrari lies at the dead center of Corso Vannucci. Drinks come with no less than nine bowls of appetizers. We ate here once and found the snacks a little blah, but this woman is giving it the OK! sign.

Since we are always trying to fit in with the locals, we spent some time observing what the Italians like for their evening cocktail.  Unlike Seattle, it’s rare to find someone sipping a margarita or rum and coke.  Italians favor bitter, herbal drinks before dinner.  They say it gets the taste buds ready for a meal.  Here are a list of some of the most common choices:

1. Negroni:  a strong, bright red drink made with gin, Campari, red vermouth and soda

2. Aperol spritz:  Aperol, prosecco and soda

3.  Campari and soda:  a bitter, red drink served with a twist of orange.

4.  Prosecco:  sparking white wine

5.  Martini rosso or Martini bianco:  Martini is a brand of sweet vermouth served on the rocks with a twist of lemon (no vodka or gin)

6.  Crodino, Chinotto, and Sanbitter: three non-alcoholic, bitter, carbonated drinks.  Crodino is orange.  Chinotto is light brown.  Sanbitter is bright red.

Many of the Italian aperitivos are bright red.  This coloring was originally derived from beetles. But in the last 10 years, beetles have been phased out for an artificial substitute.  Bummer.

Tonight we had to skip the wonderful tradition of getting out of the house for a walk because we had company for dinner, and I was working all afternoon under terribly stressful conditions to make a good meal for them.  (They are Italian and accustomed  to very high standards, of course.)  Since they planned to arrive at 7:30,  I prepared a little aperitivo for them.  I offered either prosecco or Sanbitter for drinks.  And for an appetizer, I made a plate of pecorino cheese with honey, sliced salami  and some toasted bread with grilled vegetables.

They got a really good deal because I didn’t even charges them for the drinks.

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4 thoughts on “Happy Hour

  1. Looks amazing! Wish I were there to join you for some passeggiata. How did your dinner go? I’m sure it was fabulous. PS: Husky fashion was posted today. xoxoxox

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